What—or who—does your team need to add this offseason? How can they address their weaknesses through the 2019 NBA draft? And what other options do they have?
Below, you’ll find The Crossover’s analysis for all 30 teams as June 20 approaches, looking at the big-picture items that matter most, and how they should be thinking going into draft night. Keep track of each team’s situation, draft picks and key storylines as the biggest night of the offseason approaches.
How might the Pelicans balance the prospect of an Anthony Davis trade with the pending selection of Zion Williamson? How should the Knicks operate with the possibility of landing a star free agent? Find out that and more below.
For more coverage of the draft, be sure to check out SI's 2019 NBA Draft Guide.
Atlanta Hawks: Frontcourt Depth
Draft Picks: 8, 10, 35, 41, 44
Key Free Agents: None
Extension-eligible: Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry
The Hawks have amassed a nice amount of draft capital and are also coming into a large chunk of cap space this summer, so they’ll have a number of ways to strengthen the team as they see fit. This is a young roster anchored by Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter, and they have the money to extend Taurean Prince if they choose. The biggest hole is at center, a position they should be able address with either of their lottery picks—Texas’ Jaxson Hayes and international standout Goga Bitadze are the draft’s two top bigs, and should be available to Atlanta around the time of their pick. Targeting a forward like Cam Reddish or De’Andre Hunter also seems logical. Given that the Hawks are building around Young as a centerpiece, expect athleticism and three-point shooting to be prioritized as often as possible. The roster is already extremely young, and it’s unlikely they’ll roster five rookies, so trading or selling one or more of their second-round picks should be on the table, as well.
Boston Celtics: Roster Clarity
Draft Picks: 14, 20, 22, 51
Key Free Agents: Kyrie Irving (player option), Al Horford (player option), Terry Rozier (restricted), Marcus Morris
Extension-eligible: Jaylen Brown
Boston is one of the trickiest teams to peg as draft night approaches, noting how different the roster could look with free agency pending. Many around the NBA suspect Irving might leave in free agency, and his potential successor, Rozier, appears unhappy, although the Celtics can match any offer for him. Al Horford could turn down his $30 million option and head elsewhere if he chooses. And it’s still possible the Celtics try to make a hail-mary run at Anthony Davis. Boston’s three first-rounders can be dangled as trade assets, or used to add depth and get younger in multiple areas. Until we know what direction the Celtics are going, it’s hard to say exactly what they need via the draft. Prudent options could be selecting a long-term solution at center, and perimeter ball-movers who can complement Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (assuming both are on the team come fall).
Brooklyn Nets: Forward Depth and Backup Center
Draft Picks: 17, 27, 31
Key Free Agents: D’Angelo Russell (restricted), DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis
Extension-eligible: Caris LeVert
Brooklyn is coming into cap space, and with some additional maneuvering, the Nets can create a max cap slot if they want to try and entice a star talent this offseason. It would take another level of gymnastics entirely to create a second one. Going all-in on something like that hasn’t been Sean Marks’ M.O. anyway, but suffice to say that the Nets will have pathways to improving the team. Whether they’re proactive with Russell or other teams try to sign him away remains to be seen, but Brooklyn can match any offer. As far as the draft is concerned, there’s some room for the Nets to take a risk or two—they hold two first-rounders and the first pick of the second round. Expect them to look for a center to help back up Jarrett Allen. If history is an indicator, they’ll focus on draft value over positional need elsewhere. The Nets are comfortable going international and tend to favor tough-minded, savvy role players. Depending on how much of a competitive leap they’re aiming for next season, it’s possible they choose not to roster three rookies.
Charlotte Hornets: Rim Protection and Shooting
Draft Picks: 12, 36, 52
Key Free Agents: Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (player option), Marvin Williams (player option), Jeremy Lamb
The first thing on the table for Charlotte is figuring out what to do with Kemba Walker, who can command a supermax contract figure after making All-NBA. Surely, the Hornets would prefer to keep their best player, and it’s a matter of agreeing on a number that’s fair to Walker while also giving the team enough financial flexibility to put talent around him. As far as the draft is concerned, the Hornets have three young players they need to see more from going forward in Malik Monk, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham. They also need a long-term solution at center as well as bigger wing players, preferably ones that can space the floor. Charlotte will have expiring contracts it can move this summer to help facilitate trades, and may need to get creative to improve the roster. There should be prospects available at 12 and 36 who can help the team long-term, but it may be harder to find immediate help that would provide real value to them at those spots.
Chicago Bulls: Point Guard
Draft Picks: 7, 38
Key Free Agents: Robin Lopez
Extension-eligible: Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine
The Bulls have oriented their plans around the promising frontcourt duo of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, while devoting a large chunk of their payroll to Zach LaVine and Otto Porter. Kris Dunn doesn’t feel like the long-term solution at point guard, and picking seventh, the Bulls could opt for a prospect in Darius Garland or Coby White, one of whom seems likely to be available to them. They should also be able to find a prospect they like and can develop at 38. They have some cap wiggle room to work with, but the emphasis will continue to center on the young talent. Until one of Chicago’s young guys takes a legitimate star leap forward, it’ll be hard to set a real competitive timeline, and that’s an if, not a when at this point. Markkanen and Carter are solid, but the Bulls will hope whoever they land at No. 7 can help further their long-term hopes. Other than that, this may not be a splashy offseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Pretty Much Everything
Draft Picks: 5, 26
Key Free Agents: None
With John Beilein brought in to coach the team, the writing is on the wall for Cleveland’s veterans — it’s fair to anticipate a teardown coming. Kevin Love is owed a ton of money, but still has trade value. The Cavs selected Collin Sexton in last year’s lottery, so they may not want to draft another ball-dominant player at No. 5, but it’s a spot they may be able to leverage, noting that the Suns and Bulls pick behind them and need point guard help. Koby Altman was shrewd in acquiring future draft assets for veterans this season, and Cleveland will be positioned to let rookies develop and earn rotation minutes right away. If Jarrett Culver falls to No. 5, he’d be an ideal choice. It‘s also worth noting that the Cavs are sitting close to luxury-tax territory, with vestiges of the LeBron era still on payroll. Cleveland has expiring money it can move, but not a ton in the way of valuable assets. They still need to find a way to get off the final year of J.R. Smith’s contract, particularly before it becomes fully guaranteed June 30. Nailing both picks could be a much-needed shot in the arm for the organization.
Dallas Mavericks: Rebounding and Rim Protection
Draft Picks: 37
Key Free Agents: Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber (restricted), Dorian Finney-Smith (restricted)
After sending what became this year’s No. 10 pick to Atlanta during the 2018 draft, enabling them to move up and draft Luka Doncic, Dallas has only its second-rounder this time around. The Mavs are also operating long-term without 2021 and 2023 first-rounders, which they sent to the Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis package. This adds emphasis on the picks they still have, and at No. 37, Dallas will hope to find a useful player like they did with Jalen Brunson (No. 33) last year. They should be in a good spot to bolster their frontline, and finding a more physical big to pair with Porzingis, whether via the draft or free agency, should be a goal this summer. They can create more than $46 million in cap space by renouncing their free agents and using the stretch provision on Courtney Lee, so the draft is likely a smaller piece of the puzzle.
Denver Nuggets: Stretch Four and Wing Depth
Draft Picks: None
Key Free Agents: Paul Millsap (team option), Trey Lyles (restricted)
Extension-eligible: Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez
The Nuggets’ offseason focus will be retaining their own players, beginning with Millsap, who could potentially come back at a lower number than the $30.4 million he’s owed. That could offer Denver some extra flexibility. A contract extension for Jamal Murray looks like an obvious priority, with Beasley also a good candidate. It seems likely they could be outbid for Lyles, who is further down the list. The Nuggets will have the midlevel exception to work with in free agency, and they obviously don’t have a pick in this year’s draft (they sent their first-rounder to Brooklyn to move Kenneth Faried), but they do have the capability to send cash and get into the second round if they choose.
Detroit Pistons: Wings and Backup Point Guard
Draft Picks: 15, 45
Key Free Agents: Ish Smith, Wayne Ellington
Extension-eligible: Thon Maker
The Pistons have pretty much their entire roster under contract for next season and are committed to Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond long-term. They won’t be huge spenders, and the ceiling for next season is more continuity-dependent than anything else. Detroit can use the draft to inject more youth into the roster, with a valuable pick at No. 15 that could yield a young player with upside. They may not find a rotation-ready guy at that spot, but wings like Nassir Little, Romeo Langford or Keldon Johnson could all be available and help fill a long-standing need. The Pistons had second-round success last year, adding Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown, and could find another experienced college player at that spot here, as well. If Ish Smith leaves in free agency, they’ll need a backup point guard as well.
Golden State Warriors: Star Continuity and Depth
Draft Picks: 28, 58
Key Free Agents: Kevin Durant (player option), Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Quinn Cook (restricted), Jordan Bell (restricted)
Extension-eligible: Damian Jones
Safe to say, the draft isn’t the most high-profile part of the Warriors’ offseason. The fates of Durant, Thompson and Cousins are the primary swing factors here, with the prevailing thought around the NBA being that Durant leaves Golden State. Thompson won’t be supermax-eligible, but the Warriors can still offer him a ton of money, and will do what it takes to ensure he stays. Cousins didn’t sign up for the long haul here, although it’ll be curious to see how much money he’s offered and from where. Golden State does take the draft seriously as a means to fish for cost-controlled role-players, and expect them to use No. 28 in similar fashion. The frontcourt is probably the biggest area to address. They’ll also have No. 58 (and have been rumored to have interest in keeping Serbian forward Alen Smailagic, who’s now draft-eligible after spending last season on their G League roster). The Warriors can also buy another second-rounder if they want, as they’ve done in years past. This team could get even more expensive soon, which makes drafting well imperative.
Houston Rockets: Wings, Depth and More Shooting
Draft Picks: None
Key Free Agents: Iman Shumpert, Austin Rivers, Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried
The Rockets don’t have a draft pick, nor do they have much in the way of cash to send to acquire one, but Houston tends to be aggressive and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them find their way into the second round. They have about $115 million tied up in five players—James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and P.J. Tucker—so there are some clearly defined limitations here if they want to stay out of the tax. The Rockets own all their future firsts, but have sent out their 2020 and 2022 second-rounders already, and it’s unclear how much they’d mortgage now just to get into the draft. Whatever they do, if anything, it probably won’t be front-page news.
Indiana Pacers: Wings and Shooting
Draft Picks: 18, 50
Key Free Agents: Bojan Bogdanovic, Thad Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Wesley Matthews
Extension-eligible: Domantas Sabonis
A majority of the Pacers’ rotation is set to hit free agency, placing a swath of contingencies on the table for Indiana going into the draft. They have Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis up front and picked point guard Aaron Holiday in the first round last year, so the natural area of need here is on the wing. But Bojan Bodganovic should be worth paying to retain, and Victor Oladipo will eventually be back, so this could also turn into a best player available situation for Indiana. The other big-money item is whether to extend Sabonis now, or wait until he’s a restricted free agent next summer. Regardless, Indiana will have a range of options at 18, whether they want immediate help to beef up their rotation, or choose to invest in a longer-term help at that spot. Until Oladipo fully recovers, the Pacers can afford to be a little more patient.
Los Angeles Clippers: Frontcourt and Wings
Draft Picks: 48, 56
Key Free Agents: Patrick Beverley, JaMychal Green, Wilson Chandler
It’s little secret the Clippers plan to go star hunting in free agency, with Kawhi Leonard atop their wish list and tons of cap space to play with. Their two second-round selections may not have much bearing on their immediate future, but if L.A. indeed moves toward a star-heavy cap structure, the picks present meaningful opportunities to find potential future role players on the cheap. Noting that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson are all on rookie deals, the Clippers don’t need youth in the backcourt. Fishing for a useful wing player or adding depth up front with their picks would be ideal.
Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis
Draft Picks: 4
Key Free Agents: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock, Lance Stephenson
Extension-eligible: Brandon Ingram
The Lakers rather obviously lucked into a prime pick at No. 4, although it’s likely to be more valuable to them short-term as part of a trade package than it would be used on any available prospect (assuming the first three picks go as expected). For example, if Los Angeles re-engages in serious trade talks for Anthony Davis, that pick would likely be a key, valuable element of the Pelicans’ return. Right now, it’s hard to know exactly what the Lakers will do with it, as there’s no guarantee they get an instant-impact player at that spot. If they’re left with LeBron and their current group of young guys, it’s hard to see how the needle moves them much closer to contention. Los Angeles can’t afford inaction right now, and it may be that their biggest draft need is to find a way to maximize the immediate value this pick could create. If they do keep it, expect them to simply target the best player available.
Memphis Grizzlies: Head Coach, Point Guard, Talent in General
Draft Picks: 2
Key Free Agents: Jonas Valanciunas (player option), Delon Wright (restricted), Justin Holiday
The Grizzlies presently appear somewhat rudderless, and while winning the No. 2 pick was certainly helpful for the cause, it’s up to the new front office leadership to establish a clear direction for the organization. The early scuttle has Memphis zeroed in on Ja Morant with their pick, which will help facilitate an eventual Mike Conley trade. Morant would be a potent partner for franchise centerpiece Jaren Jackson Jr., although there‘s also a case one could make for R.J. Barrett. Valanciunas seems likely to opt in, but how to re-sign Wright based on their cap situation is a task the Grizzlies will have to handle after dealing Marc Gasol to add both. Avery Bradley’s contract is only partially guaranteed, and they can save about $10 million that way if they choose not to keep him, but with Conley and Chandler Parsons still eating up much of their salary structure, Memphis may need to get creative if they want to avoid dipping into the luxury tax. There’s simply not much in the way of long-term assets on the roster, and whether it’s Conley or their pick, the Grizzlies would be wise to figure out how to maximize their team around Jackson going forward.
Miami Heat: Point Guard and Wing Depth
Draft Picks: 13
Key Free Agents: Goran Dragic (player option), Hassan Whiteside (player option)
Miami comes into the offseason somewhat hamstrung financially, with Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic likely to opt in, putting the Heat a year away from significant cap relief. Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow are the core pieces here, and the hope is that the 13th pick can be a valuable addition to that group. Miami favors tough, athletic players, and often does well finding young talent that fits their ethos—a wing like Nassir Little or Keldon Johnson could fit the bill at that spot. The Heat don’t necessarily need an NBA-ready talent, but they’ll hope whoever they develop can be a real contributor a year from now. They’ll also have expiring contracts they can move if they choose. Miami is somewhat stuck in limbo with their group until the finances clear up, so staying patient and working the undrafted market creatively will also be key.
Milwaukee Bucks: Shooting and Interior Defense
Draft Picks: 30
Key Free Agents: Khris Middleton (player option), Malcolm Brogdon (restricted), Nikola Mirotic, Brook Lopez
The Bucks have a couple overarching priorities going into the offseason, the big one being keeping a competitive team around Giannis Antetokounmpo, which leads into the second thing: retaining their own free agents. Most of their rotation is going to hit the market (including George Hill, who will likely be waived before July 2 to save the Bucks $17 million). Figuring out how to preserve the core elements of a 60-win team is the primary goal here, and it’s unclear if Milwaukee can keep every piece. Ideally, the 30th pick would produce a useful role player who matches the system, spaces the floor adequately, and can return real value on his rookie contract. The Bucks should be prioritizing team fit over strict positional need at their spot in the draft.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Point Guard and Forward Depth
Draft Picks: 11, 43
Key Free Agents: Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Tyus Jones (restricted)
Extension-eligible: Dario Saric
With new leadership in place under Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves will take the summer to establish a more defined direction while building around Karl-Anthony Towns. They’re locked into Towns and Andrew Wiggins with big money through 2022, and have some useful pieces in place around them to start. Whether they extend Dario Saric this summer or opt to let him hit restricted free agency will be of note. The biggest question mark on the roster right now is at point guard, where Jeff Teague is set to return, but could also be dealt, and with Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones both hitting the market. Finding a way to significantly improve the backcourt this summer could get Minnesota back into the playoffs, but in this class, there’s not likely to be a player of immediate help in that regard who’s available at No. 11. The prevailing chatter has been that the Timberwolves have significant interest in Rui Hachimura if he makes it to their first-round spot, but at the moment, he doesn’t directly address a rotational need. This summer will be about laying the framework for future success, as Towns is still just 23, and the pick here should be whoever the best fit will be next to him.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson
Draft Picks: 1, 39, 57
Key Free Agents: Julius Randle (player option), Elfrid Payton
In many ways, the Pelicans hold the keys to this draft: Zion Williamson is all but certain to end up in New Orleans, but the bigger question is whether Anthony Davis can be convinced to stay put. If he has a change of heart, then draft night is rather simple for the Pelicans, who will grab Zion first, hope to find good value at No. 39, and have an extra pick at 57 that they can use creatively. If Davis holds fast on his trade demand, then it makes sense for the Knicks and Lakers, who are natural trade partners, to use the No. 3 and No. 4 selections, respectively, as part of package offers. In short, the Pelicans could walk out of the draft with Zion, a second top-four prospect in this class, and a host of present and future assets if they play this correctly. Until it’s clear what New Orleans is going to do, expect the rest of the lottery to operate in a holding pattern as far as trades go.
New York Knicks: Star Talent and Scoring
Draft Picks: 3, 55
Key Free Agents: DeAndre Jordan, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay (restricted)
The Knicks aren’t tied down to much of anything this summer, with the plan being to court star free agents and maintain their options via trade, as well. They didn’t win the lottery, but the No. 3 pick is still a valuable asset, and walking away with R.J. Barrett or Ja Morant would be a boost for the long-term future of the franchise. Morant would be a better fit and is thought to have a higher ceiling, but Barrett should move the needle, too. The Knicks have their own first-rounders as well as the Mavericks’ 2021 and 2023 firsts to offer via trade, and will likely be as aggressive with those assets as they need to be to land a star. New York is hoping for Kevin Durant, and whoever else they can get to join him. The prospect of a star-heavy cap sheet means the Knicks will have to keep being effectively thrifty, and they’ve already done a solid job finding useful second-round and undrafted players over the past couple seasons. If all their designs come to fruition, they’ll have to continue doing so to keep their roster healthy.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Shooting and Frontcourt Depth
Draft Picks: 21
Key Free Agents: Markieff Morris
The Thunder tend to prioritize outlier skills and athletic tools over NBA-readiness, trusting their player development staff to help get the best out of players generally viewed as projects. Their early playoff exit may shift the script a bit when it comes to the 21st pick, which could be an opportunity to add immediate help for Russell Westbrook and Paul George. OKC is in need of additional shooting and already has a lot of players under contract, in addition to the NBA’s highest payroll and the prospect of paying the repeater tax, so hitting on this pick could be especially key. They are also potentially without their 2020 and 2022 first-round picks (although both are protected), so there’s also a case to be made for focusing on long-term upside versus a quick fix at No. 21. All in all, this is a particularly important selection for the Thunder.
Orlando Magic: Shooting and Wing Depth
Draft Picks: 16, 46
Key Free Agents: Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross
After a successful season in which the Magic made tangible progress, the next step is figuring out a pathway into the East’s upper crust. That path may include more patience, as Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and recently-acquired Markelle Fultz enter their first full season together...health permitting. We’ll see how much Orlando is willing to spend to keep Nikola Vucevic, without whom they might be looking at the lottery again. That’s the primary domino left for the Magic, and keeping him likely leaves them with only their tax exceptions to use in free agency. If Vucevic and Ross both depart, they’ll have cap space. Regardless, with their frontcourt of the future hopefully in place, the 16th pick should be a good opportunity to bolster the perimeter. And per usual, Orlando loves long, toolsy prospects.
Philadelphia 76ers: Shooting and Rebounding
Draft Picks: 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
Key Free Agents: Jimmy Butler (player option), Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick
Extension-eligible: Ben Simmons
With three starters and several bench pieces set to hit free agency, this is a big summer for the Sixers, who have significant draft capital in the second round but surely won’t end up rostering five draft picks as they fight to contend. Given how much they invested to acquire Butler and Harris during the season, it’s natural to expect ownership to pony up to re-sign both, meaning the roster is going to get expensive (even more so with a likely extension for Simmons that would kick in next season). Surely, they’d like to keep Redick if possible too. The big question then becomes how to construct the bench, which is where the Sixers’ many picks come into play. Philadelphia needs shooters, ball-movers and players who don’t need to score to impact the game, and aren’t afraid to stack positions of need in hopes of uncovering useful pieces. It’s likely they end up trading or selling some of their second-rounders, but they should have multiple opportunities to invest in young talent and cultivate a future role player or two.
Phoenix Suns: Point Guard and Stretch Bigs
Draft Picks: 6, 32
Key Free Agents: Kelly Oubre (restricted), Tyler Johnson (player option)
The Suns will again pick in the lottery and try to augment Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and their other young parts with another long-term running mate. The hope is that Monty Williams can stabilize the head coaching role and enable the development of all the talent on the roster. Ja Morant won’t fall to them, but Phoenix should theoretically be able to select one of Darius Garland and Coby White at No. 6, with Garland’s shifty off-dribble game probably the better fit long-term. Pick No. 32 is also a great spot to be in, and they’ll have their pick of whoever slips out of the first round. The Suns have cap space to work with, and their other chief off-season items are whether to match offers for restricted free agent Kelly Oubre, as well as what to do with Josh Jackson, who seems like a dubious long-term fit. This is another opportunity for Phoenix to fix some things, but their recent history doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
Portland Trail Blazers: Forward Depth and Shooting
Draft Picks: 25
Key Free Agents: Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, Al-Farouq Aminu, Seth Curry
Extension-eligible: Skal Labissiere
The Blazers are expected to hand Damian Lillard a massive supermax extension this summer, but beyond that, they don’t have a ton of flexibility barring trades. They’re financially committed to most of the current roster and seem likely to lose most of their free agents, without bird rights for Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter and Seth Curry. That places some extra emphasis on nailing this draft pick, while 2018 draftees Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. are still waiting in the wings. One pathway could be targeting a bigger wing who could eventually replace Evan Turner at No. 25, with the forward spots being a primary long-term need on paper. With new financial commitments to Neil Olshey and Terry Stotts, expect Portland to double down and try to make another run at the conference.
Sacramento Kings: Perimeter Defenders and Center
Draft Picks: 40, 47
Key Free Agents: Harrison Barnes (player option), Willie Cauley-Stein (restricted)
Extension-eligible: Buddy Hield
The Kings took a big competitive step forward this season, and De’Aaron Fox’s continued emergence makes them an intriguing group to watch. They’ll hope the addition of Luke Walton as head coach doesn’t mess with the continuity factor, and they can boast a relatively clean cap sheet. Harrison Barnes seems likely to opt in for $25.1 million, and with just the two second-round picks, it’s more likely Sacramento improves through free agency, and also potentially extends Buddy Hield. As far as the draft is concerned, they’ll have a couple of opportunities to add depth to the roster. There should be viable long-term fliers available to them at both selections.
San Antonio Spurs: Center and Forward Depth
Draft Picks: 19, 29, 49
Key Free Agents: Rudy Gay
Extension-eligible: Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl
This is already one of the youngest Spurs rosters in recent memory, and with three more draft picks on tap, it’ll be interesting to see how San Antonio allocates those resources, particularly holding the capacity to roster two first-rounders if they want. Most of their team will be back, and with Derrick White emerging, Dejounte Murray returning from injury and Lonnie Walker having a year under his belt, there’s an impressive collection of perimeter talent on the roster. Addressing small forward, where Rudy Gay could depart, and center, where they only have Jakob Poeltl, are the primary long-term positional needs. The Spurs are in good position to take a risk or two in the draft if they choose, and have a history of betting on their established culture to help players develop and acclimate to the league and gamble on talent over all else. There should be options on the board at 19 who fit their mold.
Toronto Raptors: Many More Years of Kawhi Leonard
Draft Picks: 59
Key Free Agents: Kawhi Leonard (player option), Marc Gasol (player option), Danny Green
Extension-eligible: Pascal Siakam
The Raptors only have the 59th pick in the draft, which isn’t much to write home about, even with their positive history of uncovering players in the second round. The bigger issue here is whether they can convince Kawhi Leonard to stick around, which would seem to be on the table after a strong playoff run. If he leaves, do they try to keep competing, or do they rebuild immediately? Bottom line is that Toronto has to wait and see, and whatever direction they take this summer will be dictated by what Leonard chooses. It’s not much use speculating until we have an answer.
Utah Jazz: Bigs and Backcourt Depth
Draft Picks: 23, 53
Key Free Agents: Ricky Rubio
Utah has primarily built its roster through the draft, and finding players who fit around rising star Donovan Mitchell is imperative. The jury’s still out on Grayson Allen, and Ricky Rubio is headed for free agency and could depart. Derrick Favors’s deal for next season becomes fully guaranteed on July 5, but they can create extra space by waiving him if needed. Regardless, the Jazz haven’t traditionally made huge upgrades in free agency, so retaining those players at a reasonable cost while adding through the draft seems to fit their general status quo. Losing two starters would be a lot to weather if they aim to stay in the playoff chase. Utah should be able to add an experienced college player and find value at No. 23, ideally finding someone to plug into their rotation as necessary.
Washington Wizards: Full-time GM and Frontcourt Help
Draft Picks: 9
Key Free Agents: Tomas Satoransky (restricted), Bobby Portis (restricted), Thomas Bryant (restricted), Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker (team option), Jeff Green
The Wizards have yet to appoint a full-time head of basketball operations, relying on Tommy Sheppard to stay the course since Ernie Grunfeld was removed, then taking a good deal of time to come to a decision. Until we know who’s making the pick and under what circumstances, it’s hard to know how Washington will operate, but safe to say they need a quality long-term prospect who might be able to contribute to their future regardless of John Wall’s health and Bradley Beal’s eventual fate. They could lose a large chunk of their roster with little flexibility to keep their players, although they can match offers for their restricted free agents and will surely decline Parker’s $20 million option to reallocate that money. Because of John Wall’s health and hefty contract as well as the possibility of a Beal trade, it’s hard to feel out Washington’s best direction in the draft. They might be best off just going best player available and betting on talent at No. 9, and simply figuring the rest out as they go. Knowing who’s in charge would certainly help.